HA! HA! HUMOUR: Locked In by Vimala Ramu, Bangalore

Sometime back I had written about the horrible experience of getting locked out of the house one night during a power outage. But the recent experience of getting ‘Locked in’ was even worse.   Our bathroom doors have horizontal bolts inside for locking and handles on both inside and outside the door to open and close them. Once, trying to come out of the bathroom, I pulled the bolt and turned down the handle expecting the door to open. But the door would not open. In panic, I yanked the 35 year old handle and it broke. The stump that was left behind did not have enough leverage to lift the levers. I hollered. I managed to get my husband near the bathroom door and explained the situation. He also tried to operate the outer handle, but could not open the door. As he was getting ready to break open the door, I happened to notice that a corner of the towel hung behind the door had got caught in the bolt. As a result of this, when I pulled the bolt, it had  stopped halfway and so the door had remained  latched. Blaming myself for not wearing the specs (whoever has heard of going to bathroom with specs on?) and the lack of light (Is there a rule against switching on the light in the bathroom?), I removed the corner of the towel, pulled the latch fully and the door opened!

But, this was not the worst case of ‘Locked in’ for me. We were staying on the ground floor of a house in South Extension, New   Delhi, with the owners occupying the first floor. Being staunch tam brahms, they did not believe in attached bathrooms. Instead, there was a separate room for bathing and a toilet next to it in the rear courtyard. Since the bathing room was very small, we used to fetch hot water for bath from a copper boiler kept in the yard. Our yard was separated from their yard by means of a wall with a door which I used to keep locked usually. There was an open cement tank filled with water accessible from both the yards. On the said day, I was giving the weekly oil bath to my 4 year old daughter. A south Indian oil bath is quite a ritual. The body and the hair are generously oiled, allowed to soak for some time and washed off with a paste of soap nut powder, with the whole process needing 4-5 buckets of hot water. My two year old son who was playing inside the house, strolled down to the back yard and bolted the bathroom door from outside!. I tried to explain to him through the small window how he should open the bolt, but it had no effect on him. He looked up at me with a sweet smile and retired into the house sagaciously.

I still needed a couple more buckets of hot water to complete my daughter’s oil bath. The bathroom was fogging up. We both were sweating. In the small slit of the window I yelled ‘Maami, Maami’for my land lady. But the poor lady was hard of hearing. After an eon, she came down as she felt she heard a faint cry. When I explained to her the situation, she with her 9 yard saree, climbed over the open water tank, came into our yard and released me.      When the same 2 year old son became a 4 year old, he had locked himself up in a first floor bathroom in Dhaula Kuan quarters. We had to get the MES people (Military Engineering Service) to climb from outside, let themselves into the bathroom through the ventilator and open the lock from inside.

So, I just cannot decide which is worse- to be ‘locked in’ or to be ‘locked out’. It is a choice between Claustrophobia and the feeling of being abandoned!


26 responses »

  1. Hi Vimala. Trust you to make even a lock-up/lock-in incident sound amusing!

    I remember getting locked once, when I was in school, 11th or 12th std. I had gone to the terrace to do some reading and didn’t realize it had become dark. Somebody had locked the terrace door. I didn’t know what to do. I was on the third floor and everybody seemed to be indoors. Like some circus artist I climbed on top of the thin strip of wall which extended to the stairway. Between the stairway and the terrace was the locked door. I tried hard to not look three floors down and jumped over – successfully.

  2. Lakshmi says:

    Hi Vimala,

    I’ve experienced both ‘locked in’ and ‘locked out’ and I feel both are equally traumatic. I appreciate your humour sense in narrating such episodes more captivatingly.


  3. sneha says:

    Hello Vimala,

    Interesting, interesting. It’s almost inspirational to read about such adventures of yours, in your own little home, or in and around…and the kind of humorous lessons you make us all learn from it… Whoever said, life’s taken best with a pinch of salt and spice of humor must have surely meant you, Vimala.

    Awaiting for your book.


  4. sudha says:

    my friend once got locked in a toilet in a friends house during a party…you can imagined the rest …

  5. Seetharam says:

    Getting locked up in the bathroom seems to a family trait ! First the mother then the son. Who next ?

    • vimalaramu says:

      But , my dear Seetharam, it was the same son who was responsible in both occasions. The other time, it wasn’t actually a lock -in. It just looked like one !

  6. Kanthi Narayanan says:

    I got locked in a public toilet in Greece !! The only window in that bathroom had an opaque glass ! Fortunately my family heard me hitting the door from inside & rescued me – Ugh how scary it was !

    • vimalaramu says:

      At least you had the luxury of getting locked in a GREEK toillet. Think of the speciality!!! I get locked in at awful places and my editor puts it under ‘humour’!!!!

  7. Sridhar. says:

    Your new page set-up looks fab ! Its very becoming and very in ! Congrats for the new design demands and will get attention ! As reg locked-in affairs I think we all have had similar experiences either with ourselves or children. It did happen with my 2 year old son when we were staying ina dingy apt in 9th Blk , Jayanagar, the chap got locked-in with even my mother who normally stays indoors having come out to chat neighbors!We were all agahst so also the land-lord who didnt want the door broken-open finally it was some timely intervention of neighborhood youngsters who also happened to be my soon`s admirers( they used to take him out in the evenings for their amusement) who had the door open. Well later on when my son went to school in Mumbai for a short period he repaid(replayed?) the memory by locking-in his chums in the toilets much to the chagrin of his teachers. So much for the locked-in doors and Lochinvar !

  8. Eva Bell says:

    I’ve locked myself out of the house many times and had to cry for help. I hope I never lock myself in because I suffer from claustrophobia and would probably give up the ghost in fear.
    Nice one Vimala.

  9. Beyniaz says:

    Is blog ko lock kiya jaye? 🙂

  10. gc1963 says:

    Oh what experiences! I have never got locked in so far but when in college our professor once got locked inside the bathroom and till date I do not know who the culprit was since she was locked in during the period we were supposed to have classes with her, I think it must be one from our class only who did the mischief.

  11. I think both the situations are equally bad. Still getting “locked-in” sounds frightening to me. You are just too good always. Love you Vimaladi.

  12. Getting locked in definitely the worse and the more difficult one to get rid of. Thanks for sharing your experience in a humorous manner. I also have similar experience in my life but that was of getting locked out.

    Jitendra Mathur

  13. it’s the worst feelings and experience…
    and who would indeed wear spectacles inside the shower room?
    i was locked in one morning at work….somehow the double door to the registration dept was open and i was able to get in, dropped-off few impt papers and was ready to exit but that the same door would not budge or open from inside. Thank goodness, it’s a modern facility and there are telephone q corner…dialed 4133 and i was out in 2 minutes! 🙂

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